Celebrating Servant Leader Jim Boelkins

Servant leaders are transformational people of outstanding character and competence who unselfishly serve students and help educate them ‘for lives of leadership and service.’  That is Jim Boelkins.  In addition, Jim strongly believes in project-based learning and entrepreneurship as processes for developing the next generation of Christian leaders.  He is a great teacher and role model and we are blessed by his involvement.

On February 21, 2013, we celebrated Jim’s involvement with CFL.

Katelyn Barry, pictured above, presented Jim with the Servant Leader-in-Residence award.   Below is her speech.

Presentation Speech by Katelyn Barry 

Hello Everyone and Good Evening!

I am glad you could all make it out to tonight’s event! My name is Katelyn Barry, for those of you who do not know me and I am a senior Management major here at Hope.

I think it’s always funny listening to introductions in class because people always say “here at Hope” following their respective year.  Yes, we know you are here at Hope; we’re all here at Hope.  But that phrase means something different to me; I was not from Hope until last year, when I transferred, coming into Hope as a junior.

If I had stayed at my first school I would have been from Kalamazoo College, and if I had stayed at my second college I would have been from the University of Michigan.  But alas, I am here at Hope and gratefully so.  As students at Hope, many of you do not realize how this education differs from other colleges and universities.  We are privileged to work among and alongside people who truly value us as students and believe in our power to contribute to the world.

I did not have large expectations for the type of education I would receive here at Hope, or grandiose ideas for what programs I would be involved in and to what level any involvement may leave an impact.  That changed when I was introduced to Steve VanderVeen, then Virgil Gulker, and ultimately Jim Boelkins.  I work with Dr. Boelkins on a project we affectionately refer to as the “GAP” project.  A consulting project from ASI out of the Center for Faithful Leadership.  Over the last year and a half, I have had the pleasure of working alongside many students and Dr. Boelkins to provide a solution to chronic homelessness and although we are far from providing the ultimate solution.  We’ve come a long way.

Dr. Boelkins has served as the advisor for this project and is someone that I have immense respect for.  He has played a significant role in the Hope Community, but also in the communities surrounding Hope. 

Specifically in the “GAP” project, Dr. Boelkins has played the role of an actor in a brief film, an advisor, and a mentor, and doing a great job at that.  But some may think, “This is normal behavior for a leader,” or “Alright, so he’s good at his job…” and that is where I stop to say “No, Dr. Boelkins is so much more than an advisor, he takes his job seriously and he takes his relationships even more seriously.”  

Almost a year ago, my dad lost his job, a job that had moved our entire family across the state.  This was during the summer, so I had not seen Dr. Boelkins and wouldn’t until the school year began.  But one day while checking my email, I had received a message from Dr. Boelkins expressing concern, thoughts and prayers directed towards my family.  This little act of reaching out to my family and me was so significant and one of the many reasons of why I view him as a great servant leader.  Hope is lucky to have someone like him, and to the students who have learned from him, even luckier.

Tonight’s Servant Leader-in-Residence honor goes to a person who has outstanding character and competence that unselfishly serves and educates students.  I believe that Dr. Boelkins is the best candidate for that award and am honored to be presenting it to him tonight on behalf of the Center for Faithful Leadership’s staff and students.

So without further ado, Dr. Boelkins, thank you for all that you have done for Hope and CFL and for all that you will continue to do!  It has been an honor and privilege to work alongside you.

Biography of Jim Boelkins

Jim graduated from Hope in 1966, where he majored in biology.  He completed a Master of Science degree at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks in 1968, and a doctorate in pharmacology at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1971.

He was also a postdoctoral fellow at The Pennsylvania State University during 1971-72.

From 1972 to 1975 he taught at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, Grand Forks.  From 1975 to 1977, Jim was a member of the pharmacology faculty at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  He was back at University of North Dakota School of Medicine from 1977 to 1985, where he chaired and developed a new department of pharmacology.  He received a variety of awards at the university, including recognition in both 1978 and 1983 as the Outstanding Basic Science Teacher.

Jim moved to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. in 1985 to become vice president for academic affairs.

He became provost at Geneva College in 1992.

Jim moved to West Michigan in 2000 to serve as vice provost of Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus.

Jim returned to Hope in 2002 to serve as provost.

One of his many accomplishments was the launching of the Center for Faithful Leadership.

Upon Jim’s retirement as provost in 2011, Jim became involved in ASI Consulting.  From 2011 until 2013 he has been working with students on “The Gap” project.

The Gap Project

In the Holland, MI community, there is a segment of the homeless population especially in need.

Chronically homeless, the “gap” population alternate tenures at the Holland Rescue Mission and failed attempts at independence.  They are too high functioning to qualify for disability services, yet too low functioning to live independently. Cognitive impairments restrict their ability to live on their own, and they typically have no family support structure to offer assistance.

Working with the Holland Rescue Mission, ASI Consulting developed a model for residential living called “The Shepherd House.” (See video: http://hollandrescue.org/what-we-do/shepherd-house.)

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